Sometimes called "the drink of the gods," mead has been cultivated and consumed across the world for thousands of years.
This article explores mead and its possible benefits and pitfalls.
What Is Mead?
Mead or "honey wine," is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey.
It's one of the oldest alcoholic beverages ever made, as it was consumed as far back as 4,000 years. Interestingly, mead was common across ancient cultures around the world including those in Asia, Europe and Africa.
Though similar to beer, wine or cider, mead occupies a beverage category on its own since its primary fermentable sugar is honey.
All you need to make basic mead is honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture. However, ingredients such as fruits, herbs, spices, grains, roots and flowers are often included as well.
Mead's alcohol content varies but is typically around 5–20%. Its flavor profile ranges from very sweet to very dry, and it's available in both sparkling and still versions.
Mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey. Its historical significance dates back thousands of years, and it's available in many styles.
Does Science Support Suggested Health Benefits?
In ancient cultures, mead was associated with good health and vitality. In Greek mythology, it was often referred to as "the drink of the gods" and allegedly given to warriors after a fight to enhance healing of their battle injuries.
Today, many still believe that drinking mead benefits your health and that the drink has healing properties. However, there is limited evidence supporting these claims.
Most modern health claims related to drinking mead are centered around the honey from which the drink is made and the probiotic content it's presumed to have as a result of the fermentation process.
Therapeutic Benefits of Honey
Honey has been used for its culinary and therapeutic applications for centuries.
Today it's frequently used as a topical treatment for skin wounds and infections, or consumed orally to soothe a cough or sore throat (1).
Some claim that because mead is made from honey, it possesses the same medicinal properties. Yet, there is no significant evidence to support this notion.
As of now, it remains unclear if fermented honey has the same therapeutic properties as unfermented honey.
Probiotics and Gut Health
Mead is often heeded as a health-tonic due to its potential probiotic content.
Although the understanding of how probiotics support human health is still at an early stage, some research indicates they could help prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, allergies and gastrointestinal (GI) disorders (2, 3).
Unfortunately, there is no research specifically evaluating mead as a source of probiotics or how the drink may affect your health.
Additionally, the probiotic content of different types of mead could vary significantly. The fermentation process plus the other ingredients included in the beverage could affect the concentration of beneficial bacteria in the final drink.
Until more research is available, it cannot be confirmed that drinking mead offers any health benefits by way of its probiotic content.
Mead is often touted for promoting health because of the honey it's made from and its potential probiotic content. Currently, no research supports these notions.
Potential Downsides of Drinking Too Much
Though frequently praised for its health benefits, drinking mead could have negative health consequences that may be worth considering before you start filling your glass.
The alcohol content of mead ranges from about 5% to 20%. For comparison, regular grape wine has a typical alcohol content of about 12–14%.
The American Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting your alcohol intake to one serving per day for women and two for men. One serving equals about five fluid ounces (148 ml) of mead with 12% alcohol by volume (ABV) (6).
Given the relatively high alcohol content of mead, it could be easy to go overboard, especially if you're drinking it under the assumption that it's good for your health.
Mead should be treated like any other alcoholic beverage. It's good to exercise moderation and limit your intake if you plan to drink it.
For most people, mead is generally well tolerated in moderation.
Mead is typically gluten-free, depending on what is added during the fermentation process. Thus, if you have a gluten allergy, double check the mead you plan to drink to ensure no gluten-containing ingredients were included in the brew.
Mead may potentially cause serious allergic reactions in some people, especially those with honey and alcohol allergies or intolerances.
Though rare, there have been reports of honey leading to anaphylactic reactions. If you've ever had a serious allergic reaction to honey or bee pollen, it may be a good idea to avoid drinking mead (7).
Additionally, if you've ever been diagnosed with an alcohol intolerance or allergy, you should not drink mead as its alcohol content could trigger symptoms.
Mead is a high-calorie beverage, thus, overconsumption could negatively impact your health.
Drinking too much of any alcoholic beverage, including mead, can increase your blood triglycerides, blood pressure and your risk of obesity and diabetes (8).
While there isn't much information available on the precise nutritional content of mead, pure alcohol alone provides 7 calories per gram.
One serving of any alcoholic beverage contains about 14 grams of alcohol, equaling at least 100 calories. This doesn't take into account any of the calories from, for example, the sugar in the mead (6).
Excessive consumption of alcohol and calories from mead could lead to serious health problems. For sensitive individuals, there's also a risk of allergic reactions from the honey or alcohol in the drink.
The Bottom Line
Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey.
Due to its honey and potential probiotic content, it's touted as offering various health benefits, but scientific evidence to back up these claims is lacking.
Additionally, its alcohol content may negate benefits and, in fact, cause health issues.
As with any other alcoholic beverage, practice moderation and enjoy it responsibly.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Mark Hertsgaard
What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.
Will the White House Turn Green?<p>Whether the White House changes hands is the most important climate question of the 2020 elections. President Donald Trump rejects climate science, is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, and has accelerated fossil fuel development. His climate policy seems to be, as he tweeted in January when rejecting a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to protect New York City from storm surges, "Get your mops and buckets ready."</p><p>Joe Biden, who started the 2020 campaign with a climate position so weak that activists gave it an "F," called Trump a "climate arsonist" during California's recent wildfires. Biden backs a $2 trillion plan to create millions of jobs while slashing emissions—a Green New Deal in all but name. Equally striking, his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, has endorsed phasing out fossil fuel production—a politically explosive scientific imperative.</p><p>The race will be decided in a handful of battleground states, five of which already face grave climate dangers: Florida (hurricanes and sea-level rise), North Carolina (ditto), Texas (storms and drought), Michigan (floods), and Arizona (heat waves and drought). <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us/" target="_blank">Public concern is rising</a> in these states, but will that concern translate into votes?</p>
Will Democrats Flip the Senate, and by Enough to Pass a Green New Deal?<p>With Democrats all but certain to maintain their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate will determine whether a potential Biden administration can actually deliver climate progress. Democrats need to pick up three seats to flip the Senate if Biden wins, four if he doesn't. But since aggressive climate policy is shunned by some Democrats, notably Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia, Democrats probably need to gain five or six Senate seats to pass a Green New Deal.</p><p>Environmentalists, including the League of Conservation Voters, are targeting six Republicans who polls suggest are vulnerable.</p><ul><li>Steve Daines of Montana, who denies climate science</li><li>Martha McSally of Arizona</li><li>Thom Tillis of North Carolina</li><li>Susan Collins of Maine</li><li>Joni Ernst of Iowa (bankrolled by Charles Koch)</li><li>John James of Michigan (also a Koch beneficiary)</li></ul><p>Republican Senators are even at risk in conservative Kansas and Alaska. In both states, the Democratic candidates are physicians—not a bad credential amid a pandemic—who support climate action. In Kansas, Barbara Bollier faces an incumbent funded by Charles Koch. In Alaska, Al Gross urges a transition away from oil, though his openness to limited drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve dims his appeal to green groups. He faces incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, who receives an 8 percent lifetime voting record from the League of Conservation Voters.</p>
Will Local and State Races Advance Climate Progress?<h4>THE CLIMATE HAWKS</h4><p>Under Democratic and Republican leadership alike, Washington has long been a graveyard for strong climate action. But governors can boost or block renewable energy; the Vermont and New Hampshire races are worth watching. Attorneys general can sue fossil fuel companies for lying about climate change; climate hawks are running for the top law enforcement seats in Montana and North Carolina. State legislatures can accelerate or delay climate progress, as the new Democratic majorities in Virginia have shown. Here, races to watch include Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Colorado.</p><h4>THE CLIMATE POLICY MAKERS</h4><p>Perhaps the most powerful, and most overlooked, climate policy makers are public utility commissions. They control whether pipelines and other energy infrastructure gets built; they regulate whether electric utilities expand solar and energy efficiency or stick with the carbon-heavy status quo. Regulatory capture and outright corruption are not uncommon.</p><p>A prime example is Arizona, where a former two-term commissioner known as the godfather of solar in the state is seeking a comeback. Bill Mundell argues that since Arizona law permits utilities to contribute to commissioners' electoral campaigns, the companies can buy their own regulators. Which may explain why super-sunny Arizona has so little installed solar capacity.</p><p>In South Dakota, Remi Bald Eagle, a Native American U.S. Army veteran, seeks a seat on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, which rules on the Standing Rock oil pipeline. And in what <em>HuffPost</em> called "the most important environmental race in the country," Democrat Chrysta Castaneda, who favors phasing out oil production, is running for the Texas Railroad Commission, which despite its name decides what oil, gas, and electric companies in America's leading petro-state can build.</p>
Will the Influencers Usher in a Green New Era?<h4>THE UNCOUNTED</h4><p>The story that goes largely under-reported in every U.S. election is how few Americans vote. In 2016, some 90 million, <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2018/08/09/an-examination-of-the-2016-electorate-based-on-validated-voters/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">roughly four out of every 10 eligible voters</a>, did not cast a ballot. Attorney Nathaniel Stinnett claims that 10 million of these nonvoters nevertheless identify as environmentalists: They support green policies, even donate to activist groups; they just don't vote. Stinnett's <a href="https://www.environmentalvoter.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Voter Project</a> works to awaken this sleeping giant.</p><h4>THE SUNRISE MOVEMENT</h4><p>Meanwhile, the young climate activists of the <a href="http://www.sunrisemovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sunrise Movement</a> are already winning elections with an unabashedly Green New Deal message. More than any other group, Sunrise pushed the Green New Deal into the national political conversation, helping Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey draft the eponymous congressional resolution. In 2020, Sunrise has helped Green New Deal champions defeat centrists in Democratic primaries, with Markey dealing Representative Joe Kennedy Jr. the first defeat a Kennedy has ever suffered in a Massachusetts election. But can Sunrise also be successful against Republicans in the general elections this fall?</p><h4>THE STARPOWER</h4><p>And an intriguing wild card: celebrity firepower, grassroots activism, and big-bucks marketing have converged behind a campaign to get Latina mothers to vote climate in 2020. Latinos have long been the U.S. demographic most concerned about climate change. Now, <a href="https://votelikeamadre.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Vote Like A Madre</a> aims to get 5 million Latina mothers in Florida, Texas, and Arizona to the polls. Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayak, and Lin-Manuel Miranda are urging mothers to make a "pinky promise" to vote for their kids' climate future in November. Turning out even a quarter of those 5 million voters, though no easy task, could swing the results in three states Trump must win to remain president, which brings us back to the first category, "Will the White House Turn Green?"</p>
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By Tony Carnie
South Africa is home to around 1,300 of the world's roughly 7,100 remaining cheetahs. It's also the only country in the world with significant cheetah population growth, thanks largely to a nongovernmental conservation project that depends on careful and intensive human management of small, fenced-in cheetah populations. Because most of the reserves are privately funded and properly fenced, the animals benefit from higher levels of security than in the increasingly thinly funded state reserves.
Vincent van der Merwe at a cheetah translocation. Endangered Wildlife Trust
Under Pressure<p>Cheetah populations elsewhere in Southern Africa have not prospered over the past 50 years. In Zimbabwe, cheetah numbers have crashed from 1,500 in 1975, to just 170 today. Botswana's cheetah population has held steady at around 1,500 over the same period, but illegal capture for captive breeding and conflicts with farmers and the growing human population are increasing. In Namibia, there were an estimated 3,000 cheetah in in 1975; roughly 1,400 remain today.</p><p>In contrast, South Africa's cheetah numbers have grown from about 500 in 1975 to nearly 1,300 today. Van der Merwe, who is also a Ph.D. student at the University of Cape Town's Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa (iCWild), says he's confident that South Africa will soon overtake Namibia and Botswana, largely because the majority of South African cheetahs are protected and managed behind fences, whereas most of the animals in the neighboring countries remain more vulnerable on mainly unfenced lands.</p><p>Wildlife researchers Florian Weise and colleagues have reported that private stock owners in Namibia still trap cheetahs mainly for translocation, but there are few public or private reserves large enough to contain them. Weise says that conservation efforts need to focus on improving tolerance toward cheetahs in commercial livestock and game farming areas to reduce indiscriminate trapping.</p><p>Van der Merwe says fences can be both a blessing and a curse. While these barriers prevent cheetahs and other wild animals from migrating naturally to breed and feed, they also protect cheetahs from the growing tide of threats from humanity and agriculture.</p><p>To simulate natural dispersion patterns that guard against inbreeding, the trust helps landowners swap their animals with other cheetah reserves elsewhere in the country. The South African metapopulation project has been so successful in boosting numbers that the trust is having to look beyond national boundaries to secure new translocation areas in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.</p><p>Cheetah translocations have been going on in South Africa since the mid-1960s, when the first unsuccessful attempts were made to move scores of these animals from Namibia. These relocations were mostly unsuccessful.</p>
Charli de Vos uses a VHF antenna to locate cheetahs in Phinda Game Reserve. Tony Carnie for Mongabay
Swinging for the Fences<p>But other wildlife conservation leaders have a different perspective on cheetah conservation strategy.</p><p>Gus Mills, a senior carnivore researcher retired in 2006 from SANParks, the agency that manages South Africa's national parks, after a career of more than 30 years in Kalahari and Kruger national parks. He says the focus should be on quality of living spaces rather than the quantity of cheetahs.</p><p>Mills, who was the founder of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Carnivore Conservation Group in 1995, and who also spent six years after retirement studying cheetahs in the Kalahari, says it's more important to properly protect and, where possible, expand the size of existing protected areas.</p><p>He also advocates a triage approach to cheetah conservation, in which scarce funds and resources are focused on protecting cheetahs in formally protected areas, rather than diluting scarce resources in an attempt to try and save every single remaining cheetah population.</p><p>"People have an obsession with numbers. But I believe that it is more important to protect large landscape and habitats properly," Mills said.</p><p>He suggests that cheetahs enclosed within small reserves live in artificial conditions: "It's almost like glorified farming."</p><p>"In the long run we have to focus on consolidating formally protected areas," he added. "Africa's human population will double by 2050, so cheetah populations in unfenced areas will become unsustainable if they are eating people's livestock."</p>
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